KETTERING, Ohio (WDTN) — The Kettering Police Department wants to equip its force with body cameras to increase transparency and enhance safety.
“I think it will provide a better vantage point,” says Kettering Police Lt. Lee Sanders.
In light of the current climate and national discussions on police-community relations, the Kettering Police Department reached out to citizens in a letter to explain the department’s policies. To address the community’s concerns and help better document events, it’s hoping to buy 90 body cameras to be worn by all of its officers. The cameras come at a price tag of $236,030. All of the department’s marked patrol cruisers have been equipped with in-car cameras since 2016. Body cameras would be the latest tools to help collect video and audio evidence during incidents.
“Having the ability to see not just what is in front of the car but to see what the officer sees is going to bring a lot of credibility to officers’ accounts of events,” states Lt. Sanders.
Transparency is key, especially in the case of police shootings. In June, Kettering Police shot a man they say shot at officers. Lt. Lee Sanders says details of the case were clear-cut, but body cameras could’ve provided an additional layer.
“In that case, particularly I remember doing the records requests and none of the in-car cameras pointed in the right direction. So that part of the equation, the transparency that video offers was taken away from us because of the tactical parking of the vehicles,” says Lt. Sanders. “But an officer having a body cam, they’re going to be where the incident is taking place, so that’s going to capture a lot more of potential significant scenes.”
The department is now waiting on approval for the cameras, and the initiative will be presented to the Kettering City Council at Tuesday’s meeting. Following approval, Lt. Sanders says it will take 10-12 weeks to install the equipment and train officers. He says they could be up and running with body cameras by early 2021.